So you’re planning on going to college. Maybe you’re already there. That’s great! But it’s no secret that college can be expensive, so applying for scholarships is the smartest way to decrease the price tag of your education. Unfortunately, many students have a careless attitude toward scholarships, which is exactly what you don’t want to have. It’s FREE MONEY that you don’t have to pay back—ever! Here are some common mental road blocks that students have toward scholarships and why you should banish them from your mind now!
- Scholarships are only for seniors. I don’t have to care right now! Everyone in grades 9-11, this is for you! It’s true that most scholarships are available for high school seniors and above, but that doesn’t mean that there’s nothing for you. Talk to your school counselor to see if there are any scholarships or essay contests that you can apply for right now! It is also a great idea to start researching scholarship opportunities that you might apply for your senior year. ScholarshipQuest is a great place to start your search!
- I can start filling out applications any time. No pressure! Sorry, but YES PRESSURE. This doesn’t mean that applying for scholarships has to be a stressful process. It does mean that there is a specific window of time when the most and the best scholarships are available to you. Typically you should be in high-gear scholarship mode for your entire senior year, but a majority of high school senior scholarships are due January through May, with peak season being March and April. If you miss that window, sorry, but it won’t come back. You can still find scholarships after that time frame, but if you start your scholarship search two weeks before you graduate, it won’t be as easy and you will have missed out on most of the best scholarships.
- I won’t bother applying for lower dollar scholarships. Too much work and not enough money! Every valid scholarship that you are eligible for is worth applying for, period. If someone tried to give you a $50 bill, you wouldn’t say ‘Ugh, that’s not enough money for me to take from that person’s hand. Too much effort!’ No, you would TAKE that money and feel awesome about it! And that’s exactly what is happening with all scholarships—lower dollar scholarships included! Someone is saying ‘Hey, I have this money and I want it to fund someone’s education. Do you want it?’ So whether the scholarship is for $50 or $10,000, you should fill out that scholarship application to the best of your ability to say ‘Yes! I want that money!!!’ And I’ll let you in on a secret—a lot of other people don’t think it’s worth it to apply for low dollar scholarships either. In fact, your chances at being selected may be better when applying for the $50 scholarship than for the $10,000 scholarship (but still apply for both)!
- There aren’t any scholarships out there for me—there’s no point in looking. This is a huge stumbling block for a lot of students, especially adult learners, current college students, graduate students, and students who are ‘in the middle’ financially. And I’ll be honest, you may have some trouble finding scholarships. But if you don’t try to seek out and apply for scholarships, there’s a 100% chance that you won’t get any money. Call your current (or future) college’s financial aid office, research your major to see if your department offers anything, volunteer, apply for internships, and keep cultivating your hobbies and other extracurricular activities. It may take a bit more effort to find scholarships, but that effort will be well worth it.
Scholarship applications can seem like a daunting task, but a little hard work now can save a lot of money in the long run. So get out there and start applying!